When it comes to new game consoles there's always tons of leaks, tons of rumors, tons of reports and endless speculation. Many gamers pore through endless documents to weed out any morsels of information regarding new game tech, and sometimes the reports center around what the console might be missing rather than what it might feature. And in this case, it's a disc drive.
According to Thurrott, the new Xbox might not have a disc drive. Rumors about the Xbox game console from way back when the Xbox One was first scheduled to be announced reported that it wouldn't have a disc drive. Reports continued to emerge in 2014, well after its release, that Microsoft considered the option of removing the disc drive during launch. Well, now the rumors have picked up again and they're circling the topic of the missing disc drive for Microsoft's newest iteration of the Xbox One game console.
According to the report, those close to Microsoft have revealed that ahead of the next-gen release of the Xbox, which is being codenamed Scarlett, Microsoft will release one more SKU version of the Xbox One. This final version will arrive in 2019, just a year before Scarlett launches in 2020. The hook for the console? It's reportedly going to be $100 cheaper than the current Xbox One home console, but it won't come with a disc drive.
So what's the benefit for consumers to purchase a disc-drive-free console, especially if a large portion of their library is disc-based? Well, according to the report Microsoft will start a disc-to-digital program at local Microsoft stores, which will enable gamers to bring their game discs into the store and have them converted into digital games that will then be permanently attached to their Xbox Live Gamertag. This also removes any need for a disc-based DRM system.
Obviously, there's a lot of pros and cons attached to that decision, especially regarding the fact that if anything happens to your Gamertag, or if your account gets banned, or if your account gets hacked, or if you're unable to get online, or if you have connectivity issues, you won't be able to access your games. The upside is that you'll be able to access your library wherever you install your Xbox Live account, which means that you can pick up your digital library and carry it with you wherever you go, so long as you have access to your account.
Microsoft has been teasing and toying with the concept of a drive-free Xbox for some time, so this news is neither new nor surprising. However, if Microsoft actually goes through with it this time then that would a step toward the company's aim for an all-digital future, which was pitched back in 2013 during the unveiling of the original Xbox One.
According to Thurrott, the Scarlett design isn't finalized yet, and the company is still deciding whether to add a disc drive or not. A lot of it will depend on the success of the drive-free SKU allegedly due out in 2019. Microsoft has been heavily pushing for digital services, especially with the Xbox Game Pass, so this news isn't too surprising.
The comments on the website are also easily divided, some people want all-in on the all-digital future, while there are a couple of horror stories in the comment section of people who suffered identity theft and lost all their digital games. The thing to consider is that with a physical copy you can always use the game so long as you have access to a system, but with a digital version you're subject to access only when the servers are online, when the account is still active, and if you have a consistently working internet connection. For the people who meet that criteria, I'm sure a drive-free Xbox One looks like a good bargain.